Responding to Scotland's Rural Health and Social Care Needs With Innovative Solutions

Margaret Currie, Lorna Jennifer Philip, Jane Farmer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


Demographic ageing is a global phenomenon and issues associated with it are receiving attention from academics and stakeholders alike. In the UK, currently 17.2% of the population is over 65 and predictions state that one in three people will be aged over 60 in 2038 (ONS, 2011). Demographic ageing is not spatially homogenous, urban areas in the UK have lower median ages whilst remote rural areas have the eldest populations [8]. Similar patterns are evident elsewhere (e.g. in mainland Europe and the USA). An increasing number of older people is frequently portrayed as a problem but the situation is not as clear cut. It is well known that most older people live independently and only make notable calls on public services such as the NHS in the final year of life. This paper aims to: (i) highlight some of the issues identified relating to healthcare, older people and rurality from a Scottish context; (ii) present two case studies (TOPS-Technology to Support Older Peoples’ Personal and social interaction and O4O - Older People for Older People) to highlight some of the issues of healthcare provision in rural Scotland and potential solutions that may have
applicability in a wider European context. The research comes from an inherently geographical stance, framing the rural as a complex entity within which interactions between people and place are enacted. This work challenges ‘fixed’ notions of rural places for which services must be delivered in unchanging ways by looking at new models of service provision across rural spaces and places. Local stakeholders – including older people – can contribute to such a research process, making it inherently transdisciplinary by focusing and engaging older rural people in the decision making process.
The first example considers the implementation of eHealth – Information Communication Technologies which are used to play a role in the delivery of health and social care services – which has been heralded
as a potential solution to the provision of health services in rural areas. The
Technology to Support Older People’s Personal and Social Interaction project (TOPS) is concerned with the social and personal interaction between older people and their health /social care providers and considers how eHealth can play a part in enhancing the life experiences of older people with chronic pain living in rural areas. From this study we will present (i) how older people are currently using eHealth (ii) what aspects of personal and social interaction rural older adults with chronic pain experience and value; and iii) how technology might have a role to play in future delivery of health and social care services.
The second example is the Older People for Older people project (O4O). The project was developed from the concept that place - based health service provision can be tied to community preservation. The O4O project also brought action researchers and citizens together in a process of service co - design, development and delivery for rural older people. It actively engaged rural people and stakeholders to consider new ways of delivering services. Our research has shown that the place embeddedness of remote and rural health care means that bringing together citizens and service decision makers in the design and delivery of services is beneficial. In conclusion, the paper aims to highlight the ways in which health service delivery changes are likely to be impacted by demographic changes of an increasingly older population in rural Scotland. It will also draw from lessons learnt through the examples which show it is possible to work with communities and stakeholders to plan for changing service provision to address current and future needs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Event3rd EURUFU Scientific Conference Social Issues and Health Care in Rural Areas - Sondershausen, Germany
Duration: 25 Mar 201426 Mar 2014


Conference3rd EURUFU Scientific Conference Social Issues and Health Care in Rural Areas


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